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North America, United States, Colorado, Climbs in Rocky Mountain National Park

Climbs in Rocky Mountain National Park, 1975. Ever since David Rearick and Bob Kamps in 1960 first climbed the Longs Peak Diamond, the impressive alpine wall has been appreciated both as a test piece and for its esthetic qualities. Other firsts since then, besides 15 new routes and variations, include a winter climb by a new route by Layton Kor and Wayne Goss and a partially new route solo by Bill Forrest. The 1970s ushered in a new era of free climbing standards and techniques; with it came attempts to climb the Diamond free and clean. Most attempts concentrated on the Diamond-7 route on the left side of the precipice, where the rock is more climbable. Bit by bit skepticism gave way to reality and finally in early 1975 two Boulder climbers, Wayne Goss and Jim Logan, climbed the Diamond all free and clean. They followed the first four pitches of Diamond-7 and then traversed to the Black Dagger Chimney. Finding this too wet, they continued right to Forrest’s Finish, which they followed until it was possible to traverse back left to the top of the Black Dagger Chimney. There one final pitch separated them from success; spurred on by approaching darkness, Goss led up a nearly blank wall in a slight rain to finish the climb at Table Rock. On this all-free climb there was no yo-yoing on leads, resting on protection, pitons or Jümars. The ascent took 12 hours. Shortly afterwards, there was another first for the Diamond: Stephanie Alwood, Molly Higgins and Laurie Manson completed the first all-woman ascent via Diamond-7. They had one hanging bivouac after a first night on Broadway. In mid-July James Dunn and Kris Wood climbed the Yellow Wall route all free. They climbed to Broadway in poor weather, did 4½ pitches to join Forrest’s Finish and eventually completed the climb as Goss and Logan had. The pitch above the Black Dagger Chimney was the crux for both. The Yellow Wall start involved several days of climbing due to persistent rain, but they did the route all free and clean. Two new routes were done on the Diamond between the Obelisk and Curving Vine routes. Bob Dodds, Ron Olevsky and Paul Kasputts climbed the first crack left of the Curving Vine to Obelisk Ledge; they traversed a short way right and finished the climb at Table Ledge. The climb took over a week (NCCS V, F8, A2). A few days later George Hurley and Bob Bliss put up a second new route a few feet left of the previous one, all clean with two pitches of aid. Hurley said it was easier than Diamond-7 and may prove an alternative to that crowded route. They took a single day (NCCS V, F8, A2). In late August Tobin Sorenson and Bruce Adams rappelled to Broadway from Chasm View and repeated the Dodds-Olevsky-Kasputts route with several important variations; they mention one F10 pitch. They did the climb free and clean in a single day. Other impressive firsts in the park included the second and first all-free ascent of the northwest face of Chiefs’ Heads. The route, first done in the early 1960s by Layton Kor and Bob Culp, had defied numerous later attempts. In July Bill Westbay and Dan McClure did the climb, eliminating the aid with two F8 pitches. On Lumpy Ridge, a low-lying rock-climbing area also in the park, two women distinguished themselves by being the first women to complete F10 climbs; they both swung leads with their partners. Diane Russell climbed the notorious Crack of Fear on Twin Owls, leading pitches one and three. Molly Higgins did the Turn Korner route on Sundance. Near Twin Owls, John Bachar did the first free solo of the difficult Gollums Arch, a strenuous F10 finger crack. James Dunn did another impressive first on the Twin Owls, Peaches and Cream (Fll). The summer was tragically marred by the death of Diana Hunter, who slipped while soloing above a climb which she and her partner had just completed on Cathedral Wall in the Loch Vale of the park.

Michael Covington